Free school breakfasts scheme an uncosted blow to schools, families and children

The Lib Dems have warned that Tory plans to scrap free school lunches, in favour of free breakfasts, is an uncosted scheme that will put pressure on barely managing families and schools, as well as contributing to the issue of childhood obesity.

The Conservative manifesto pledges to scrap universal free school lunches for primary school pupils under seven, one of the policies the Lib Dems authored during their time in the coalition, and replace it with a scheme to provide free school breakfasts for all primary school children. Universal Free School Meals cost an estimated £600 million a year. The Tory manifesto has pledged just £60 million a year for their breakfast scheme, saying the difference will help fund school budgets.

However, the Conservatives have set aside just 6.8p per pupil for its manifesto pledge to give all primary school pupils free breakfasts, in what food experts have labelled a “black hole” in the government’s manifesto calculations.

Aisling Kirwan, the founding director of the Grub Club, a school-based social enterprise that provides cooking lessons for pupils in poorer areas, said that a nutritious meal costs 25p  per pupil on average. Even then, this is only a bowl of porridge with milk. A more filling breakfast, which would include bacon, two sausages, one egg and bread, would cost 85p per portion.

“Clearly there’s a huge disparity between the realistic costing and that put forward by the Tories,” she said.

Dr Rebecca Allen, director of think tank Education Datalab, said in SchoolsWeek, that schools were looking at a bill in the region of £400 million once costs of paying a teaching assistant to oversee the breakfast club were included.

Scrapping free school lunches in favour of free breakfasts could also have a significant nutritional cost, Nick Clegg has warned, saying Theresa May should take “her inspiration from Jamie Oliver not Oliver Twist”.

Clegg said scrapping the lunches, which will be replaced by free breakfasts, could mean thousands of pupils no longer receive a single portion of fruit or vegetables on a daily basis.

No nutritional guidelines exist for school breakfasts, though schools are expected to provide two to three of the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in school lunches.

Judith Bunting said this week that:

“This scheme is an uncosted disaster that will hit children, families and schools hard. At a time of unprecedented school cuts, schools will be expected to fund staff to cover free breakfast clubs. Families who are barely managing with stagnated incomes and rising costs will struggle to fund the extra £440 a year per child for lunches – or send them to school with a less nutritious packed lunch.

Half of low-income pupils go hungry at breakfast, and a further fifth eat breakfasts with little or no nutritional value. Providing them with a bowl of sugary cereal is not going to help this. When we know we have issues in this country with both childhood obesity and food poverty, this scheme is ridiculous.”

Judith meets local entrepreneur Ruth Headon

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen at Rio's Burger Bar

Ruth Headon is a local woman who has turned her life around. Judith went to meet her and hear her story and her plans for the future, growing a business in Newbury.

Ruth’s life spiralled out of control a few years ago, in a few short months she lost everything, her home, family, her child and friends to alcoholism and addiction. With the help of a great friend, Dave, she pulled herself through it and is now celebrating 3 years sober. 

Ruth found herself looking at a window sign in Rio’s Burger Bar asking for till staff, and she hasn’t looked back. She is now the manager there and has been there for two and a half years. 

Rio’s is now being sold and Ruth’s determined and entrepreneurial spirit has given her the motivation to want to take over Rio’s herself, and continue her efforts to support those who are going through similar experiences to her. Calling herself lucky, Ruth is now giving back to the community and is teaching others how to complete forms and how to read. With a desire to do whatever she can to help people and make a difference she has completed both Peer and Facilitating Training. 

Ruth describes the team at Rios as ‘a team of amazing people, my own little family. This is my recovery community. People come to Rio’s for food and advice’. 

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen & her team at Rio's Burgers
Judith with Ruth (far right) & her team at Rio’s Burgers

Judith said: “I support Ruth and her venture; looking to the future and not backwards – we need more of this. Ruth has overcome a great deal to get to the position she is in now and she says people should “have pride at where you are now, not shame about where you have been”.” 

Ruth is now looking to buy Rios burgers in Newbury where she has worked for 2.5 years and is currently successfully managing. Ruth has set up her own crowd funding page to support her efforts of buying Rio’s and enable her to continue her charitable support of those who are suffering. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/rios-for-ruth

The Liberal Democrats have announced policies to support local businesses and entrepreneurs in their 2017 manifesto. Judith says: “Backing local businesses is very important to me as a local person, as when small businesses thrive they strengthen our economy and provide local jobs.”

Judith Bunting: Standing up for Local Business

 

Judith Bunting announces Lib Dem plans for funding boost to give children in West Berkshire a brighter future

Judith reading to preschool children
Judith reading to preschool children

This week, at Park House School, Newbury, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Judith Bunting launched the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto policies for young people and children.

Under the plans, 3-4 year-olds in Newbury and West Berkshire would benefit from Liberal Democrat plans to triple funding for the early years pupil premium, which gives extra cash to nurseries, pre-schools and school receptions when they take on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The cash would triple the funding to £1,000 per pupil per year – up from £302 in 2015-16.  This will increase the allocation for West Berkshire Council from around £75,000 (£74,591) to £223,773, and will pay for every disadvantaged child who benefits to receive 570 hours of state-funded early education. This forms part of a series of policies the Liberal Democrats are announcing with a focus on giving children and young people a brighter future.

Judith Bunting said: “I was delighted to be able to tell the 6th formers today about key Liberal Democrat policies that will significantly improve the lives of young people.”

These include:

  • Helping people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes
  • Restoring housing benefit for young people
  • Creating a discounted bus pass for 16-21 year olds, giving a 66% discount
  • Introducing votes at 16 for elections and referendums across the UK

As well as:

  • Investing almost £7bn in our schools and colleges
  • Doubling the number of businesses that take apprenticeships
  • Tripling the early years pupil premium
  • Extending free school meals to all primary school students

Judith Bunting added: “We will give children in Newbury and West Berkshire a brighter future, by investing in those from more deprived backgrounds to give them the best possible chance in life.

“This forms part of a package to build a fairer Britain and ensure no child or young person is left behind. Education is at the heart of everything I stand for, as a Liberal Democrat.

“I want the opportunity to help the Liberal Democrats provide a strong opposition to this Conservative government and to give the people of Newbury and West Berkshire a voice in standing up against the cuts to our local schools, hospitals and regional funding.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a brighter future for people across Newbury and the surrounding area.”  

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has let us all down by voting with Theresa May and UKIP on Brexit. “The Liberal Democrats will stand up to Theresa May and give the people the final say on Brexit, with the choice to remain in Europe if they don’t like the deal on offer.”

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Lib Dem Judith Bunting unveils manifesto plan to fund more nurses, teachers and police in West Berkshire

The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto plans today for a brighter future, with pledges to reverse Conservative cuts and increase funding for the NHS, schools and police.

The Party’s landmark policy would give the people the final say on the Brexit deal which would include the option to remain in the EU.

The Liberal Democrats would put a penny on income tax for health and care, which would raise £8m for the NHS in Newbury and District Clinical Commissioning Group – enough to fund 48 more nurses.

An additional £28,953,046 of funding for schools in West Berkshire paid for in part by reversing Conservative cuts to corporation tax, would be enough to pay for 159 more teachers.

Meanwhile an additional £8.3m funding for Thames Valley Police would pay for 166 more officers, helping to cut crime and ensure a stronger police presence in the area.

Other key policies in the Liberal Democrat manifesto include plans for a £100bn infrastructure fund to build more homes, improve road and rail links and install fibre-optic broadband across the country.

The Liberal Democrats will also give the people a chance to change Britain’s future by holding a referendum on the final Brexit deal, with the option to remain.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting said:

“These plans would build a brighter future for people in Newbury and West Berkshire and reverse Conservative cuts to our schools, hospitals and police.

“We want to build a fairer Britain, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy.

“You don’t have to accept Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s cold, mean-spirited vision of Britain.

“The Liberal Democrats will stand up to a bad Brexit deal that will cost jobs and put up prices and give you the final say.

“As your Liberal Democrat MP, I will fight for a better deal on Europe, more money for the NHS and schools and a brighter future for Newbury and West Berkshire.” 

Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital
Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital

The Lib Dem Manifesto (and Easy Read, BSL and Braille versions) can be found here.

Lib Dems would give Thames Valley Police an extra £8.3m a year

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Liberal Democrats have announced they would boost investment in police forces by £300m a year. This is in stark contrast to the Conservatives who have overseen devastating cuts to community policing. Theresa May as Home Secretary and now Prime Minister has cut policing budgets by over £2bn, eroding the very fabric of community policing.
Under the Liberal Democrats, Thames Valley Police would see a funding increase of £8.3m a year. This could be used to restore a visible policing presence in the community and ensure the police have the training and tools to deal with the changing nature of crime.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting commented:
“This investment in our police is absolutely vital. Under Theresa May – first as Home Secretary and now as Prime Minister, our police have had to deal with the most brutal of cuts. These are now cutting into the bone.
 
“Our police work tirelessly to keep us safe and this Government has completely betrayed them.
 
“Only the Liberal Democrats have a credible plan to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and ensure the police have the resources they need to keep us safe.”
Judith about town 03.05.2017-19

Lib Dems will invest more than £28m to protect school funding in Newbury & West Berkshire

Featured Image -- 744The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest £28,953,046 more in schools and colleges in West Berkshire over the next parliament.

The funding for West Berkshire would reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.

£754,957 of the funding would be spent on protecting the Pupil Premium, introduced by the Liberal Democrats to help the most disadvantaged children.

Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat, said:
 
“We all know that children in Newbury and West Berkshire are being put under enormous pressure, in overcrowded classes taught by overworked teachers – but Theresa May doesn’t care.

“Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, while billions of pounds are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammars and free schools.

“This extra £28m of funding would ensure no school and no child loses out.

“We will reverse crippling Conservative cuts to school budgets and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

“A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to take parents across the country for granted and cut our schools to the bone.

“Only the Liberal Democrats can provide the strong opposition Britain needs to stand up for Newbury.

“Vote for the Liberal Democrats and you can change Britain’s future.”

Judith about town education view

Want to Stop School Cuts? Add your name here.

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Lib Dem Leader says Labour vote has collapsed

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Final results in the 2017 County Council elections show that Labour have lost 382 Council seats across the UK, and lost control of 7 out of 16 Councils that they held (see BBC: Local elections 2017: The results mapped).

Whether the cause is Tory gerrymandering or Corbyn’s performance, it is impossible to say, but an opposition party would expect make gains in local government elections.

Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in response:

“These results tell a clear and stark message. Labour has collapsed. They cannot win the General Election.

If you want a strong opposition to this government, we are the party for you.

A strong opposition can change Britain’s future. A strong opposition to stand up to Theresa May’s divisive Brexit plans that will cost jobs and put up prices. A strong opposition to keep us in the Single Market. A strong opposition to rescue the NHS from Conservative neglect. A strong opposition to stop Theresa May cutting schools to the bone. A strong opposition to fight for you and your community.

Labour has failed as an opposition and handed Theresa May a blank cheque to do as she pleases. The voters have delivered their verdict on Jeremy Corbyn.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party that can challenge Theresa May. We will be the strong opposition that will stand up for you.”

Commenting on the results Judith Bunting, the Newbury constituency Liberal Democrat general election candidate, said: “With a nationwide vote share of 18%, things are looking good for Liberal Democrats across the UK. In the South East, Liberal Democrats won new Council seats in Oxfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight”.

To join the fight for Newbury constituency, get involved here! #ItsGotToBeJudith

 

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Liberal Democrats commit to ending rough sleeping in Newbury

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The Liberal Democrats have become the first major party of this election to commit to ending the “national scandal” of rough sleeping across Britain, including in Newbury and West Berkshire.

Latest official figures for West Berkshire show that 14 people were sleeping rough in Newbury in the Autumn of 2016, almost double the number of people in 2013. Local groups who work with homeless people, such as Loose Ends and West Berkshire Homeless, put the current number much higher at 25 people.

It is a scandal that so many people are sleeping on the streets in 21st century Britain.

Here in Newbury, we all know that as well as the people who have been ‘counted’, many more sofa surf or are in insecure accommodation for only the occasional night, and we know we have single homeless people and couples who are sleeping rough. That is why I welcome this commitment by the Liberal Democrats to end homelessness in the UK.

The series of measures to end rough sleeping, laid out by the Liberal Democrat national party, include introducing a Housing First provider in each local authority that would put long-term homeless people straight into independent homes rather than emergency shelters.

The news comes as a coalition of homelessness charities, including Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Shelter and St Mungo’s, have called on political parties to commit to end rough sleeping in Britain.

By increasing practical support for homelessness prevention and properly funding emergency accommodation, we can end rough sleeping in Newbury and West Berkshire and across the country.

We will ensure that each local authority has at least one provider of Housing First services, to allow long-term homeless people to live independently in their own homes.

The evidence suggests that supporting people with a long-term, stable place to stay is far more successful in tackling homelessness than constantly moving them through the chain of different temporary accommodations.

Under this government, homelessness has soared and young people are being been stripped of housing benefit, threatening to make matters even worse.

This election is a chance to change the direction of this country and stand up for a can-do Britain that is open, tolerant and united.

Message to voters in Newbury and West Berkshire

#YourVoiceMatters

This General Election is the Best Thing for Britain.
It Gives us a Chance for Change.

The Conservatives are hell bent on a ‘hard Brexit’. We now understand the future of our country is at stake. The national press suggests that the number of Leave voters who still want to exit from Europe is shrinking:

  • ‘Leave’ voters who did not realise Brexit could lead to the break up of the UK.
  • People who chose not to vote who now regret that decision.
  • ‘Leave’ voters who feel they were lied to during the Referendum Campaign.
  • 17 year olds who have had a birthday since last June and now want a say in their own future.

Add these to the 48% who feel the narrow margin of victory last June is being casually disregarded. Yes, this general election is the best thing that could happen to the UK right now.

If you want to stop a hard Brexit, you need an MP who will fight for you.

  • If you are a Remain Tory voter, please lend me your vote for this election.
  • If you are a Labour voter who does not want to leave the single market, please support us.
  • If you are angry at the potential break up of the UK, vote for us.
  • If you want to live in a country which is open, tolerant and united, vote with us.

#YourVoiceMatters

If you would like to join our local campaign team to work to stop this hard #Brexit in its tracks, please write to us at westberkslibdems@yahoo.com.

If you would like to join the Liberal Democrats – it only takes two minutes: http://www.libdems.org.uk/fightback 

 

Equality Matters

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EQUALITY MATTERS:

The inequality we are seeing now began, in our country, in the eighties with Big Bang. The Greed is Good and the Loadsamoney mentality permeated the Thatcher years. The same attitude continued in certain circles through the Banker Worship of the Blair era and lies behind the crippling costs of social welfare in our country at the moment. I never got with that programme.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to penalise those who do well. The Liberal Democrats are the party of success and achievement. When the richest one percent of Britons own the same amount of wealth as 54 percent of the population, however, something has to change.(1)  

Economist, Thomas Piketty, warns that if inequality in the West continues to grow at the current rate, society as we know it will collapse. At present, the state is being required to make up in benefits for the poor salaries some companies pay to their lowest paid employees. We cannot afford to continue to do this. (2) . 

Let me offer you an example: Over the two years between 2011 and 2013 the CEO of SSE a received a 79% pay rise. His actual remuneration increased from £1.45m to £2.6m. Meanwhile, average wages did not rise at all and 10.6 million individuals in the UK were living in absolute poverty. (3) Funnily enough, trickle-down does not seem to be working.

Of course, many smaller companies have simply not been able to increases wages over the past five years. Understand that. Other larger companies, though, the kind who have been increasing shareholder dividends and executive pay, seem to have forgotten that if you increase the wages of your lowest earners, you will be rewarded with more loyalty and better work. Paying a decent wage takes away your staff’s need to worry on your time about when/whether they will receive their housing benefit, problems they may have with heating their homes, paying food bills or how they are to afford the school uniform. It’s that basic. Take those worries away and you get more focus, better attention to detail and a more efficient and effective job done. The political Philosopher Elder Shafir talks movingly on how just a little extra security helps increase people’s ‘mental bandwidth‘, which makes for a better life, better work and a better society.

From the point of view of the UK, as a whole, paying people a living wage releases low paid individuals from the bonds of in-work benefits, which releases pressure on the welfare system and so releases funds to pay for the schools, NHS, police, roads, army etc etc, essential services, shared by us all – including the people who run successful large businesses in the UK.

In government, the Liberal Democrats have smuggled through some of the most socially democratic policies for a generation and softened the blow of austerity a little, but there is still far more do to.

…..

Picture: Judith Bunting with Nicola Padfield, Master of Fitzwilliam College.

In 1869, Fitzwilliam opened its doors as a rooming society for students who could not afford Cambridge College fees. There after it continued to encourage students from modest backgrounds and support them through a Cambridge education. In the seventies, the College became one of the first in Cambridge to offer A level entry to students of state schools. In 1979 they opened their doors to women (including Judith Bunting). In 2014 the College welcomed its first female master, Prof Nicola Padfield. Equality Matters – Shout about it!

1    Oxfam – the The Relentless Rise of Food Poverty in Britain, June 2014

2    Capital in the 21st Century

3    Absolutely poverty is defined as earning 60% or less than median income ie: £13,728 pa at that time.